The sound of silence

Tim Hauserman

We go to the wilderness to appreciate the stunning beauty of nature. Perhaps its the reflective ripples on a mountain lake that touch your soul. Or cool, smoothly polished granite. Or, it could be the majestic magic of an ancient western white pine gently waving in the breeze, that does it for you. But we can also go to the woods to experience the sound of silence. Not true silence mind you, just a break from the noise of civilization, and a chance to appreciate the beauty of the more subtle sounds of nature.

Here are the steps to take to enjoy the sounds of nature:

1) Find a nice smooth piece of granite next to a babbling brook or the shore of a wilderness lake. No worries. We have such places in abundance in the Sierra. Desolation Wilderness is a great place to start.
2) If possible, go there on a midweek morning. If the weekend is your only option, remember that the first rule of finding a true wilderness experience is that the further you walk, the fewer people you will see.
3) Unplug any electronic devices (better yet, leave them in the car). Lie down. Shut your eyes. Shut your brain. Quiet your breathing. Relax and pay no attention to the little voice chirping in your head with your To Do List.
4) Once your brain is quiet you may hear: Groups of ravens cawing overhead and the loud flapping wings of a Clark Nutcracker. The grating call of a Steller’s Jay. Water lapping and flapping against the rocks. The gentle rustle of the wind passing through the firs and pines, or the quaking of the aspen leaves. A fir cone crashing to the ground, followed shortly thereafter by the chirping of a squirrel heralding itself to be Tarzan, bringer of cones.
5) And maybe, hopefully, you will also hear snippets of total silence, where all you hear is your heart beating, and a bit of a ringing in your ears. That moment when you finally get the opportunity to feel the peace of being away.